Statement released by:
Ahirudin Attan Interim President, National Alliance of Bloggers (AllBlogs)
Dr Lim Teck Ghee, Director, Centre for Policy Initiatives
Kuala Lumpur, 9 September 2008
SOS on Raja Petra Kamarudin to Fellow Malaysians
During the last few days there has been an ominous and increasing crescendo of messages – written and verbal – indicating the imminent arrest and detention of fellow blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
We hope that the Government is not contemplating this action. To alleviate the widespread public uproar and concern – national and international – that this shortsighted action will precipitate, we call on the authorities that may be planning this action to take heed of this SOS; to immediately cease all targeting of Raja Petra through the ISA or any other repressive measure; and to come out instead with an assurance that:
1. No such ISA order is being envisaged to be served on Raja Petra
2. Raja Petra is free to continue his writings on the vital matters affecting the country
3. The draconian legislation of the ISA will not be used on Raja Petra or any other Malaysian blogger to punish them for their dissenting views and opinions.
In our view - and if the Government should care to undertake an independent survey, in the view of the great majority of Malaysians and non-Malaysians - Raja Petra in no way poses a threat to the country’s peace and security. Rather, he poses a threat to those individuals and organizations that he perceives as engaging in unconscionable and dastardly acts and activities that are bringing ruin to the nation. Many Malaysians too are of the opinion that his website contains some of the most incisive analysis on the ills that beset our nation. Further attempts to take down his website or to shackle his freedom of expression is not only an attack on a fearless, principled and ethical patriot but they will also be construed as an attempt to restrict our freedom of information and expression, a move that will take the country further down the road of authoritarianism.
While we respect the right to freedom of speech and information, we also advise all Bloggers and other online writers to exercise the same high ethical standards expected of journalists in the traditional media. We do not condone lies and malice in the Internet and should not only stand by what we write - we must be able to defend the truth of what we write.
We emphasize that in our view the current laws pertaining to Sedition and Defamation apply equally to print and online media and should be deterrent enough to check “irresponsible” writings. Hence we urge that there be no resort to a draconian law such as the Internal Security Act to hold peace-loving Malaysian writers to “ransom.”
A democratic government should not for one moment entertain - let alone pursue - the charges that have been leveled against Raja Petra. To isolate those forces in the system that are bent on using the repressive instruments of the state against various opponents for their own benefit, we call on:
1. All fair-minded and honest leaders from the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat parties to speak out - privately and publicly - against any attempt to use the ISA against Raja Petra;
2. Component parties of the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat to publicly oppose any intended incarceration of Raja Petra under the ISA;
3. Civil society, professional and other organizations and private individuals to demand that the Government guarantees Raja Petra’s freedom of expression and undertakes not to use the ISA against him now or in the future.
We hope that good sense will prevail in our country’s leadership. Any act of repression against Raja Petra especially at this particular time will not go unquestioned or unanswered. We are confident that hundreds of thousands - if not millions of Malaysians – will stand firmly to make their dissenting views known should the Government choose to silence Raja Petra through the use of the ISA.